Understanding what works as a news product, and at the end of the day, choosing what news product to build can be a make or break for your solopreneurship journey.
For some in a newsroom, the product development process is something you may or may not have encountered but not actively thought of as essential before.
As you start out on your own media journey, it's important to identify the what you'll be creating, how you'll test it to make sure it works, and what process you'll use to create it. Lastly, and one of the most difficult things you'll have to do throughout this process, is determine what your product is worth.
But first — what is a product?
According to the Membership Puzzle Project — a product is any tangible or intangible item or service that is a result of a process and that is intended for delivery to a customer or end user. In journalism, a product can be anything a news organization creators to solve a problem or meet a need*.***
As a solopreneur, you will be most likely creating a media product - an item that you are creating that serves to solve a problem or meet a need. Let's dive into what makes a good media product and how you can use product thinking to get you started on the right foot.
You'll need to conduct in depth research to not only identify a problem that you'll be working on solving, but understanding how you can best solve it within your scope as a solopreneur. Some problems are hard to do alone, and may be better suited for a newsroom to conquer.
This section will guide you through developing an outline for what media product that you'll be developing, and give you the resources you need to not only prototype it, but test and successfully launch your media product. Once that is complete, you'll be a little bit closer towards being a successful solopreneur.
What makes a good media product?
It has often been said that a good product saves a user time, energy, effort or money. But how do you know what the user needs? Borrowing from the researcher, Don Norman, he highlights one of the biggest problems of how many people go about solving problems;
A brilliant solution to the wrong problem can be worse than no solution at all: solve the correct problem — Don Norman The Design of Everyday Things
With those four pillars in mind, let's dive into understanding what media product you could create that would truly stand out in this sea of sameness -— how are you solving the problem, and solving a need that saves the user time, energy, effort or money?
By building a media product that truly solves a problem, and solves a problem in such a good way that the end user will pay for it — you can build a profitable future. Fail to solve a problem that saves someone time, energy, effort or money, or do so poorly — your time as a media solopreneur will most likely not be so sustainable.
Product thinking in solopreneurship
We can learn a lot about what type of content will be most successful to your audience by following some basic product development framework. Commonly referred to as the Agile Development process or the Iterative Cycle of Human-Centered Design, we can use observation, testing and iteration to make sure our potential audience members are getting what they need.
These frameworks both favor responding to change in the environment or market to build the best product.
Know your target
Notice the top of the figure to the left is observation. Much like a scientific experiment, it's important to start with a guess — what type of person are you creating this product for?
Starting with this sort of assumption — you know now what audience to survey and understand more about.
For example, when I first set out to create this guide, I knew I wanted to create it for people who were likely to want to go it alone. So, I spent a ton of time immersing myself in the creator economy, understanding what people who are going alone are like. In addition to that, I started the work myself to start going it alone.
These two actions gave me Ideas to what would work well and be received well within the audience that I was creating for.